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Presentation Info & Speaker Bio
Playing with Fire: Chemistry and Physics of Fireworks
Fireworks have fascinated people for centuries. As chemists, many of us have also taken delight in demonstrations that produce flames and loud noises. We started with burning alcohol and exploding hydrogen balloons for demonstrations and then for stage effects. That’s where we crossed over the boundary between chemistry and pyrotechnics. Since then, we’ve handled a wide range of pyrotechnic devices in a large variety of situations. Along the way, we’ve earned pyrotechnics licenses and developed an extensive base of practical knowledge about fireworks.
We will show you how the combination of chemistry and physics produces pyrotechnics. Demonstrations will illustrate characteristics of fireworks and how they function. We will bring our firing system to acquaint attendees with terminology used in pyrotechnics. The critical importance of safety will be emphasized throughout the presentation. Weaving everything together will be stories of our own experiences with fireworks. Let us show you how we play with fire!
Kathleen Holley has been a science educator for the past 30+ years. She holds a B. S. in biochemistry from UT Arlington, an M. S. in elementary science education from Texas Woman’s University, and a Ph. D. in chemistry from the University of North Texas. She currently teaches Advanced Placement chemistry, International Baccalaureate chemistry, chemistry, and physics at her alma mater, Lamar High School in Arlington. At Lamar, she also sponsors the Masters of the Universe science demonstration team. In addition to pyrotechnics and other hobbies, Kathleen has been a musician for most of her life. She plays flute and piccolo for the Fort Worth Civic Orchestra and plays alto and bass flute with the Flutissimo! and Flutes Unlimited flute choirs. She also combines music and chemistry as a member of Al D. Hyde and the Keytones, where she plays alto sax and flute. This all-chemist cover band plays every two years at the Biennial Conference for Chemical Education.
Trey Seastrunk is an industrial engineer who has done science as a hobby since he was in high school. Holding a B. S. in Technology Management, he currently works in Planning and Logistics for Ventura Foods. In addition to professional pyrotechnics, he serves on the Board of Directors for the Fort Worth Regional Science and Engineering Fair. He also volunteers as a member of the Board of Directors for the Fort Worth Civic Orchestra. This summer, Trey plans to celebrate his birthday by photographing a total solar eclipse.
Kathleen and Trey met during National Chemistry Week in 1993 at the Science Place in Dallas. Trey was working weekends doing public programs and Kathleen was volunteering for the ACS performing demonstration shows. They’ve had great chemistry together ever since.